Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Bandaids

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At the end of a long frazzled day of dragging around town on public transport and a trip to the pediatrician for vaccinations I finally got home and Cricket was desperate for food. I cradled him and he started to nurse furiously only to break away after a few seconds crying. I latched him again, and again, furious nursing before pulling away crying. Tired, frustrated and now covered in leaking milk I was getting increasingly agitated and didn’t notice the father figure getting home. After watching quietly for a minute he suggested “why don’t you try the other side?” I flipped the baby over and he latched on… and his whole body relaxed as he settled in to feed properly. I asked in awe “what made you think of that?” and my lovely husband replied “I saw the bandaid from his shots and figured it might be painful to hold him with his weight on that arm.” I’d completely forgotten about the injection. Parenting Tiger is a lot like this, except he doesn’t have bandaids to helpfully warn us of sore spots. I was rushing to try and bring a load of laundry in before the clouds burst and dumped their rain down when Tiger came home from school and demanded toast. I toasted bread and dumped it on the table with a knife and the peanut butter jar then ran back outside. Cue much dramatic whining about how if I really loved him I’d spread the toast, everyone else IN THE WORLD gets their toast spread for them, and how much he hated me. As I dumped an armful of laundry and prepared to lecture him for being selfish and spoiled something about the sad way he was slumped at the kotatsu made me pause. “Have you ever spread toast before?” I asked, and learned that no, he never had, and he felt embarrassed to say so and frustrated because he was hungry. Instead of a fight we ended up having a lovely afternoon practicing on endless reams of toast. All too often, though, I miss the signs and fight when I should be nurturing. If only there were bandaids to warn me.
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Sunday, 10 January 2016

I Wish My Baby Would Read

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Too busy for sleep
I bought a number of useful and authoritative sounding books on baby care, but Cricket just won’t seem to read them. Nor will he listen to professional advice; after he was born I was sternly entreated to burp him after every feed, but he steadfastly refused to produce a single burp. He was passed from nurse to nurse and patted until I feared bruises would result, but no burp made its way out of his little mouth. It did leave him with the rather adorable habit of patting my back in return whenever I put him on my shoulder though. A few days after we came home the baby’s father commented “he doesn’t seem to know how to baby.” It’s true. He never sleeps. Not naps, not at night, never. “Baby should be napping for several hours a day” I read aloud, pausing to glare pointedly at my not-remotely-sleepy-seeming infant. He replies with a gargle and a spit bubble. I hold Super Nanny’s book open to the “suggested sleeping schedule” and wave it in front of Cricket’s face. He tries to eat the book. “Sleep when your baby sleeps” the books all say. I search the index frantically for “my baby never sleeps” but there are no entries. My baby clearly doesn’t know how to baby. His teeth come in and I am terrified he’ll bite my nipple. “Don’t worry” says every source, book and digital, “babies almost never bite.” He bites me. “If they do, it’s almost always a harmless nip of exploration” says every source the baby has clearly never read. Two little holes in my nipple drip blood onto the page explaining how this will totally not happen. My baby doesn’t know how to baby. He ignores the sippy cup I buy and drinks confidently from a glass at three months. He tries to steal food from my plate, spoon, cup and on one occasion my mouth from three months. I print out articles about “virgin gut” and delayed introduction of solids and leave them pointedly lying around, but he persists, screaming for food. I cave and give him sneaky food at four months, but it isn’t good enough, he wants to sit at the table and eat exactly what I’m eating. Cricket’s father entertains his co-workers with photographs of our six month old eating French toast, a whole banana, and lentil stew. He figures out he can make the dogs go crazy by throwing bits of his food to them, and uses his powers for evil. I wake in the middle of the night to find Cricket, seven months, standing next to a large box experimenting with ways to open and close the lid.  I take him to the city playroom and he immediately climbs onto the roof of the play house. He can’t walk, but he climbs like a cat. At eight months the books say he’ll probably drop one nap. “HA” I laugh, my baby doesn’t have a nap to drop! And then he starts napping twice a day, just when other babies are apparently waking up. My baby hasn’t read the manuals. He doesn’t know how to baby.
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